Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Through the Rain

Yesterday, my travels toward the GSA meeting in Portland, Oregon, took me across Nevada into the face of the oncoming storm.
cloud Lenticular cloud in eastern Nevada.

dust Dust storm, with overhead mass of lenticulars, while approaching Eureka.
rain Serious rain started as I crossed Big Smoky Valley and drove toward the Toiyabe Range. I couldn't hardly see the mountains until I got into them, and Big Smoky Valley to the south was a near whiteout (gray-out?) from the rain and low clouds.
mountains Looking south toward the west side of the Toiyabe Range from the center of Reese River Valley: clouds roil over the back side of the mountain near Big Creek.

A relatively dry spell ensued, until somewhere east of Fallon.
windmill Good news! The windmill is back up and running at West Gate. A lot of happy cows were lying down in the nearby field. Happy cows are ones that are lying down, rather than having to stand up and spend their entire time eating. Cows aren't usually that "happy" in the desert and steppe rangelands of Nevada and southern California (the Mojave Desert).

Driving from Fallon onward included barely being able to see with windshield wipers going full blast from the intensity of the rain and from semis splashing water all over while passing me in the canyon of the Truckee River east of Reno. There was enough standing water on the roads to cause unexpected hydroplaning in places - and the winds were blasting sideways across the water-sheeted concrete highway between Fallon and Fernley, strong enough locally to push my truck sideways.

Oh, and how much gas did I have? Usually that isn't a problem for me, but I didn't want to stop and risk getting completely drenched, didn't want to stop and risk driving over the mountain pass in the coming darkness. My odometer seemed to be telling me I had been getting 20 mpg or more for the last 400 to 500+ miles. Since I couldn't believe that, I chose to think I had not reset the odometer, and must not have traveled as far as it said, thus giving me enough gas to get to my destination without refilling. About 40 miles from the next gas station, I did the math and realized that with less than a quarter of a 30 gallon tank, I had really gone 560+ miles, another 40 would make that 600 miles, a precise 20 mpg. I usually fill up at 500 miles, and although I probably had enough gas to make it 40 miles - probably, maybe - I turned around and drove back less than a quarter mile to the last gas station, getting a little damp for the trouble. I'm packed for wet and cold weather, but was only dressed for cold.
sun Finally, after driving through the most consistently intense rainstorm I've seen in Nevada for a long time - over a broad area from east of Fallon to beyond Reno - I spotted this bit of clearing on Highway 395 south of the Honey Lake rest stop.


Garry Hayes said...

At least better than driving the whole "loneliest" highway through a blizzard, I guess...

coconino said...

Glad you made it in one piece!

Silver Fox said...

I for one am glad that the rain has passed on, at least a little. Usually it's just rain or snow showers, or dense rain for a very short time usually associated w/ T-storms.